The administration has made little secret of its near-total reliance on drone operations to fight the war on terror. The ironies abound. Candidate Obama campaigned on narrowing presidential wartime power, closing Guantanamo Bay, trying terrorists in civilian courts, ending enhanced interrogation, and moving away from a wartime approach to terrorism toward a criminal-justice approach. Mr. Obama has avoided these vexing detention issues simply by depriving terrorists of all of their rights—by killing them. …

Yet the greater threat to security comes from Mr. Obama’s micromanagement of the drone campaign. Poring over the files of kill-list nominees recalls Lyndon Johnson’s role in tightly controlling bombing strikes during the Vietnam War. During Operation Rolling Thunder, Johnson held Tuesday lunches when he and his advisers picked targets to avoid attacks that might provoke Soviet or Chinese intervention. …

To stop an enemy without territory, population or regular armed forces, the U.S. must have access to timely, actionable intelligence gleaned from captured terrorists. The interrogation of terrorist leaders not only led the CIA to bin Laden’s doorstep. It helped produce the success of the last decade: not a single follow-up al Qaeda attack in the U.S. Exclusive reliance on drones and a no-capture policy spend down the investments in intelligence that made this hiatus possible, without replenishing the interrogation-gained information needed to predict future threats.